In 1984, I had the opportunity to meet a person that would be a dear friend for over twenty years. Don Smith is a very unique and driven person. He has always had a passion to help people to be their best and achieve the impossible. He has been consistently speaking the Truth to anyone that has ears to hear. Valiant for Truth is a continuation of the work that he has been involved with for the majority of his life. In college, Don was a contributor to the college newspaper. He wrote articles and discussed subjects that were taboo on a college campus. He was praised and at times despised for his boldness to place clear and concise thoughts on paper. People would wait weekly for Don’s op/ed pieces to run in the paper so that they could respond. It was through his leadership and op/ed pieces that the students eventually forced the school’s Board of Directors to divest from any investment holdings with South Africa.
During this time, Don was a frequent speaker at the prisons and juvenile detention centers in the area. He was completing an Administration of Justice Degree and he wanted to find viable methods to help those who had become apart of the system. I must admit some of the places that he spoke would have scared the normal individual like me. However, Don was always unyielding in his eagerness to teach the truth and help others. The essential trait that I recognized from Don early on in his speaking, writing, and teaching career is that he causes people to think. He challenges the established pattern of thought. Don’s writing and teaching style remind me of another great teacher Dr. Carter G. Woodson.
After graduating from college, Don returned home and was immediately recruited to start his own church in Freeport, IL. He was on fire! He had an environment to teach all that had ears to hear. He had become very successful rather quickly, and at a young age. It could have provided an easy path to retirement and success for him. However, with every victory, there are naysayers around the corner. Don was popular with the people but, not with the church leadership. He became engaged in a bitter battle to teach tradition versus truth that would cause healing and prosperity. Rather than split the congregation, he was able to see the limitations of that particular church and he decided to leave gracefully.
Don and his family then moved West where he continued his spiritual journey writing, teaching, inspiring, and working within the Juvenile Justice System with at risk youth. He also began presentations and lectures to larger groups on a variety of topics. This included; how to interact with at risk youth, working with diverse populations, racism, sexism, cultural competence, and lessons in critical thinking. During this time Don wrote a book of poetry that was very raw and honest. A few years later, Don wrote his groundbreaking book “What I See: A New Prescription for Thought” I have included one of the many comments from others concerning this book.
Dr. William Clifton, a Social Justice Educator for University of Wisconsin-Madison says, “Mr. Smith has written a very powerful and personal series of essays premised upon the need for Critical Consciousness within, and specifically for the African-American community. Embodying what he espouses, Mr. Smith provides a rich array of ideas for readers interested in a deeper, more personal understanding of the historical, and on going impact of White Privilege on Race, and Gender, and Education in the United States.”
Don is the real deal. He is a person that not only talks the talk but, also walks the walk. He has been true to his core vision, which is to educate others and give them the ability, tools, and skills to be themselves. He is currently working on another book, which will be released soon entitled,“Repairer of the Breach”. It will be in true Don Smith fashion, raw, funny, engaging, and thoughtful. It will cause you to think deeply about a number of subjects. It is great to find a man so consistent and true to his heart. Don has been doing the work that he has been called to do for over 25 years, and I believe there are greater things to come.
~ Ron Wright
I have known Don intimately for over 30 years. I’ve watched him grow into the man he is today. He has always been a natural leader. He is loyal to his friends and vastly committed to the word of God he believes. I’ve watched him raise two children, make mistakes, fall, ask for forgiveness, and get back up with a vengeance. Don continues to touch people spiritually, socially, and politically. His heart to free people of error in tradition and self-made limitations continue to inspire many. I look forward to his next venture with awe, hope, love and support.